Wherever I travel, I love trying local snacks. It's an accessible and delicious way to connect with the local culture, whether that's new flavors of a familiar food (guava yogurt!) or something totally unrecognizable and novel. I've been known to smuggle some of my favorite discoveries back home (Iranian pistachio paste from Istanbul) and mourn once I run through my stash.
Baylor Wei knows the feeling. When she moved from Liaoning, China to Utah to study, she missed many of her favorite Asian snacks from back home. "I often would ask friends and relatives to ship them from overseas," she says. "Unfortunately, sometimes the packages would arrive destroyed with snacks melted or missing."
Wei founded Snackoo last year to bring popular, bizarre, and esoteric international snacks to America. "It's a combination of snacks from my childhood or home, recommendations by friends and family who live in those countries, and new discoveries I stumble upon during my travels," she explains. "I always head to local convenience stores in addition to popular bakeries or specialty shops like Shiseido Parlour in Japan. I just got back from a trip to China, Taiwan, and Thailand so there will be many new additions to Snackoo soon."
5 Delicious Snacks You Can Buy from Snackoo
Right now Snackoo is focused on Asian snacks, but there are plans for international expansion. Here's a few of my favorite snacks you can find online right now.
1. Open Pine Nuts, $10
I'd never seen in-shell pine nuts before. These have a crisp brown skin surrounding the white meat, roasted with a hint of lemon. They're so delicious it's hard to stop, but cracking open each shell at least slows down my pace.
These individually wrapped sandwich cookies are just the right balance of sweet and salty, if not especially truffle-y. The cookies are black from cocoa and bamboo charcoal with a Gouda cheese and truffle salt cream filling.
3. Matcha Pudding, $25
This pudding doesn't need to be refrigerated and comes with individual serving spoons, so it's a great travel snack. It features dense, milky custard with earthy matcha flavor that's not too sweet. Each pudding comes with a mysterious packet of sauce that reminds me of a fruity maple syrup. Kobe may be best known for its beef, but apparently they have some great dairy too.
These flash-fried whole shrimp are crunchy and salty — a great drinking snack. They remind me of toasted chapulines that I enjoyed on the streets of Mexico City. It might seem scary to be eating a shrimp with the head on, but it's a much healthier protein-filled chip or pretzel alternative. And I was also pleasantly surprised by the short list of ingredients and no MSG!
This French and Japanese fusion dessert alternates layers of thin buttery dough with purple sweet potato cream filling. It's not quite as fresh as what you might find in a patisserie, but for packaged shelf-stable food, it's pretty impressive.
Have you tried Snackoo yet? What did you get? Let us know in the comments!